Pentagon chief to host Ukraine-focused defense talks in Germany next week

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers his opening remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing held to examine the Department of Defense 2023 Fiscal Year budget and the Future Years Defense Program in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 7, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Germany next week to hold Ukraine-focused defense talks with allies at Ramstein Air Base, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson said Thursday.

The Ukraine Defense Consultative Group, set for April 26, will “bring together stakeholders from all around the world for a series of meetings on the latest Ukraine defense needs,” as well as “ensuring that Ukraine’s enduring security and sovereignty over the long term is respected and developed,” Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters. 

Kirby did not say how many countries would participate as the list is not yet finalized, but allies from outside NATO will be included. 

Topics to be discussed will include the latest battlefield assessment of the renewed Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, how countries can energize the defense industrial base to continue the steady flow of weapons to Ukrainian forces and a larger view of Kyiv’s defense needs stretching beyond the current war with Russia. 

The United States and at least 30 other countries have helped provide Ukraine with military assistance since the Kremlin’s attack began on Feb. 24.  

Earlier on Thursda,y the Biden administration announced another $800 million in lethal aid to Ukraine, a package that includes 72 155mm howitzers, 144,000 artillery rounds and 72 tactical vehicles to tow the howitzers. 

In addition, Ukraine will also receive 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, fast-tracked by the Air Force specifically for Kyiv.  

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who was at the Pentagon Thursday to meet with Austin, thanked the U.S. military for its support while asking for “more powerful and modern weapon to fight even more effectively.” 

“With the U.S. help, with your support, we can change the situation on the ground. We are winning now, but we need to cement this resolve and ensure our victory in nearest future,” he said ahead of the meeting. 

Tags John Kirby Lloyd Austin Lloyd Austin Pentagon Russia-Ukraine conflict Ukraine

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